gold tipped staff sceptres
SCEPTRE. Though the sceptre is now used principally as one of the insignia of royalty, the word originally had a more extended meaning. Among the early Greeks the-;.; cricn-rpov was simply a long staff used by aged men (II. xviii. 416; Herod., i. 196), and thus came to be used as a sign of authority by officials of many kinds - judges, military leaders, priests, heralds, and others. It is frequently represented on Greek painted vases as a long staff, tipped with metal in some ornamental fashion, and is borne by some of the gods. Among the Etruscans sceptres of great magnificence were used by the kings and also by the upper orders in the priesthood. Many representations occur on the walls of the painted tombs of Etruria. Some specimens which still exist are among the finest examples known of ancient jewellery. The British Museum, the Vatican, and the Louvre possess Etruscan gold sceptres of the most minute and elaborate workmanship. Some of these are hollow gold batons, about nine to twelve inches long and half an inch in diameter, completely covered with that very delicate ornament for which the Etruscan goldsmiths were so famed, produced by soldering thousands of microscopically minute globules of gold arranged in rich patterns on to the plain gold cylinder which forms the ground. One magnificent specimen in the gold-ornament room of the British Museum has its top formed like a flower, with outer petals of beaten gold and an inner core made by a large emerald ; it is of the greatest beauty both in workmanship and design.
The sceptre of the Romans, like most of their insignia of rank, is said to have been derived from the Etruscans. An old and more Latinized form of the word is scipio (see Liv., v. 41). Under the republic an ivory sceptre (sceptrum eburneum) was one of the marks of consular rank. It was also used by victorious generals who received the title of imperator, and this use still survives in the modern marshal's baton. In Roman paintings the long staff-like sceptre is frequently represented in the hands of Jupiter and Juno, as chief of the gods.
Under the empire the sceptrunt Augusti (Suet., Calk I, i.) was specially used by the emperors. It was often of ivory, tipped with a gold eagle (Juv., Sat., x. 43), and is frequently shown on medallions of the later empire, which have on the obverse a half-length figure of the emperor, holding in one hand the short eagle-tipped sceptre and in the other the orb surmounted by a small figure of Victory. The older staff-like form of sceptre still survived under the name hasta pura ; it is shown on the reverses of many Roman coins in the hand of deities and of the emperor or empress, though originally the hasta pura had a very different use, being simply a mark of distinction given by Roman generals to soldiers who had shown unusual bravery (Tac., Ann., iii. 21). After the introduction of Christianity as the state religion, the imperial sceptre was frequently tipped with a cross instead of the eagle, though both were used. All through the Middle Ages both these forms survived, and sceptres of gold studded with jewels were used by most sovereigns of Europe. The gold sceptre of Charlemagne, a magnificent specimen of early jeweller's work, still exists among the regalia at Vienna. Some mediaeval sceptres were of crystal or ivory mounted in gold. Several fine ancient examples existed among the regalia of England till after the death of Charles I., when the whole set were broken up and melted by order of the Parliament.
At the Restoration, four new sceptres were made for the coronation of Charles II. (see Archzologia, xxix. p. 262); and these still exist among the regalia in the Tower. They are - (1) the so-called St Edward's staff of gold, 4 feet 7 inches long, set with jewels, and surmounted with a cross and orb - a copy of the older one which contained in the orb a fragment of the true cross (this sceptre is borne in front of the sovereign during the processional part of the ceremony of coronation); (2) a gold sceptre tipped with a cross, which at the coronation is placed in the sovereign's right hand by the archbishop of Canterbury; (3) a similar sceptre tipped with a gold dove, which is placed in the sovereign's left hand ;I (4) a small gold jewelled sceptre for the queen consort. Nos. (1) and (2) are both studded with diamonds. In addition to these four, there is a gold-mounted ivory sceptre, which was made for the queen of James II.; it is tipped with a gold dove and is studded with jewels. A sixth gold sceptre is that which was made for the queen at the coronation of William and Mary.
Among the Scottish regalia at Edinburgh a fine 15th-century gold sceptre still exists ; and others of the same or earlier date are preserved among the royal insignia of several European countries.